Fish Oil Supplementation for Your Dog or Cat

holistic-vet-nh-fish-oils-for-petsSupplementation with fish oils (omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA) is important because they cannot be made in the body. They are needed for healthy functioning of the immune system, skin and coat, joints, heart, kidneys, brain, eye, and GI tract. Commercial pet foods do contain omega-3 fatty acids, but usually inadequate amounts due to processing.

Fish oil supplements range widely in terms of quality. Things to consider when choosing a brand of oil:

  1. Purity – free of contaminants like mercury, lead, PCBs, etc.
  2. Freshness – minimized oxidation throughout processing
  3. Taste – fishy smell or taste can mean poor manufacturing
  4. Triglyceride Form – natural form has increased absorption
  5. Third-Party Testing – guarantee for purity, freshness, and quality
  6. Sustainability – responsible fishing and production

Food Is Medicine: An Introduction to Food Therapy

holistic-animal-food-therapy“Let medicine be your food and food be your medicine” – Hippocrates, the father of modern Western medicine.

Most of us do not think of food as something that can be as powerful as a drug. But food can significantly affect the way we feel, act, and think. It can even be used for the treatment and prevention of disease.

Food therapy is a branch of holistic medicine that heals using food along with or instead of medications. It was developed in the East and is based on thousands of years of observation. Unlike nutritional science with its food pyramid and the five food groups, food therapy is the art of selecting specific food ingredients and/or superior herbs for each individual in their environment. Certain foods are chosen for an individual depending on their age, species, geographical location, personality, and their current disharmony or disease process. It also involves eating foods that are appropriate for the current season and that keep the body in a state of balance.

Western nutritional science describes foods primarily by their fat, protein, and carbohydrate make up. In Eastern Food Therapy, the focus is on the effect the food has on the body after it is eaten. Foods are described as having energetic properties such as temperature and route of action within the body. The temperature of a food can be warm, hot, neutral, cool, or cold. For example, cinnamon is warming and often used with foods in the fall and winter to warm us up just as watermelon is cooling and great for hot summer weather to keep us cool. Have you ever noticed that you are hungry again a couple of hours after eating Chinese food? This is because most Chinese food is made with ginger, a spicy food that promotes emptying of the stomach.

Just as each person needs a diet that meets their individual needs, each pet has individual needs for their optimal health. For example, you may have a dog that is hot all the time, i.e. panting, cool-seeking behaviors, heat intolerant, etc. This can eventually cause health problems due to stress on the body from trying to stay cool. A cooling food such as turkey can effectively reduce heat and keep things in balance to prevent future problems or to even correct current ones.

As a holistic veterinarian, I have used Eastern Food Therapy with great success in a number of pets for:

  • Health promotion and prevention: to improve overall health and to prevent seasonal climate related problems.
  • Primary therapy: to treat many clinical conditions, especially skin and digestive problems.
  • Adjunct therapy: to complement the primary treatment for diseases including ear infections, skin problems, urinary crystals and stones, bladder and kidney infections, inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease, cancer, kidney failure, liver failure, arthritis, and many more.

Remember that the foods that you are feeding your pet will directly affect their health and well being. Good nutrition from a balanced diet that is specific to the individual pet is the foundation for wellness.

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